Summary: A sinful high place is any area, thought, person, or relationship that I allow to remain in my life as a provision for the flesh, to satisfy the sinful desires of my heart.
Destroying the High Places
(This message has been heavily adapted from a excellent sermon by Don Currin on High Places)
We are in a study on the Kings of Israel, and today we are going to talk about one key area in their lives by which God assessed the overall quality of their lives.
It is exam time for a lot of students kids who usually don't pay attention, but they will really key in the week before finals. This morning I want to share with you from the lives of the kings of Israel something that is on the final exam from God.
One key criteria that God used to judge the overall quality of a kings reign was what they did in regard to something called high places. The inspired record follows a similar pattern in describing the life of many of the kings of Israel, age they became king, mothers name, overall quality of their life/reign and what a comment on them and high places.
Let me give you some examples:
2Ki 21:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Hephzibah.
2Ki 21:2 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel.
2Ki 21:3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.
2Ki 12:2 And Jehoash did right in the sight of the LORD all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
2Ki 12:3 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
2Ki 14:1 In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became king.
2Ki 14:2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem.
2Ki 14:3 And he did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done.
2Ki 14:4 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
So there are three examples (actually 4 Hezekiah is mentioned in passing as a King who destroyed high places)
1 rebuilt them.
2 served God but did not remove them.
High places are similar in some ways to the fact that the children of Israel when they conquered Israel did not remove all the "ites," out of the land. Spiritually speaking we could say they symbolized pockets of remaining sin.
So what are high places and how do that relate to us?
There were two type of high places in Israel, one of which I will only discuss briefly.
High places were places where the true God of Israel was worshipped but they epitomized a special type of sin that God abhorred: Serving God on my own terms.
God said to worship in Jerusalem. That was not convenient for some so they didn't do it. Listen we are not to subject the bible to our views, we are to subject our views to the bible.
Ro 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able [to do so];
Jesus said everyone who comes to Him will be broken. Broken of self-will, self-rule. A horse to be useful has to be broken, we are no different, we have to learn to accept and be ruled by the reigns (the word of God) that the Master puts on us.
God has rules about forgiveness and turning the other cheek. When we subject those rules to our opinion and say things like "I won't forgive them unless they apologize." We are serving God on our terms. In the OT the phrase that describes this is, "every man did what was right in his own eyes." We need to do what is right in God's eyes. Worshipping God was correct, doing it on high places instead of in Jerusalem was wrong. What if you lived far away? I think one of the reasons God made this requirement was to teach that salvation is by God's rules not ours. For example what if someone believes in God but not Jesus? No man comes to the Father but through Me. God's rules are not subject to our feelings about them, we are to change our feelings to line up with God's rules!